TeachingCity celebrates its inaugural year

It’s been just over one year since Durham College (DC) became partners with the City of Oshawa, Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, and the Canadian Urban Institute, to help Oshawa become a TeachingCity.

Together all parties have been working together to establish Oshawa as a living laboratory focused on experiential learning, applied research and innovative teaching partnerships to address urban issues.

The TeachingCity focuses on:

  • Developing practical, scalable and sustainable solutions to urban issues;
  • Building research partnerships;
  • Coordinating experiential learning opportunities, applied research and innovative educational activities;
  • Developing new technologies; and,
  • Sharing access to facilities, resources and equipment.

Driven by a steering committee comprised of representatives from each partner, DC’s own Janse Tolmie, associate vice-president and chief information officer, IT Services and Marianne Marando, executive dean, School of Business, IT & Management, have been working along with the rest of the group to help successfully launch the initiative, focusing on putting processes in place, understanding how to assess project proposals and working with deans, associate deans and faculty at DC to kick-start several projects.

These included the TeachingCity Hackathon, which provided students with an opportunity to propose a solution to a public policy challenge around the theme of improving residential rental housing in Oshawa. Supported and mentored by faculty, City staff and community and business leaders, DC’s team, known as P.A.M., placed second, receiving a $750 prize for their solution of a website that focused on the inclusivity of the most marginalized Oshawa populations. 

The TeachingCity Hub also opened its doors. Located in downtown Oshawa, the Hub provides opportunities for TeachingCity partners to share access to facilities, resources and equipment, and includes office, classroom and lab spaces. The open-concept area will be used for meetings, collaborative learning opportunities and co-design.

Other highlights include students from DC’s Fine Arts – Advanced program exhibiting their works in Oshawa City Hall as part of the City’s Art and Culture in the Hall program. Students from the college’s School of Media, Art & Design also had a chance to show their creativity as part of its Community Collaborations course, where they designed vinyl artwork in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, which was then displayed on the windows of the City’s Arts Resource Centre.

With one year completed, the partners are looking ahead to further develop the initiative. There are a number of diverse research projects in the works including getting a DC course recognized as a TeachingCity course; a project to provide certain services to low income residents and the establishment of the City Idea Lab, which will offer experiential learning opportunities to post-secondary students via a credit course at the TeachingCity Hub. Students working in the lab will learn about identified urban issues in Oshawa and will have the opportunity to collaborate with City staff to co-design possible solutions. The first intake of DC and University of Ontario Institute of Technology students to use the lab will be in the 2018-2019 academic year.

A graduate from DC’s School of Media, Art & Design will also be given the opportunity to create and install a mural in the TeachingCity Hub.

The full TeachingCity Progress Report is now available. Please visit to learn more about this past year’s activities and the plans for the future.